Topping the list of adventurous people’s must-visit places in Canada, Haliburton Forest, and Wildlife reserve is undeniably the best place. It is privately owned & located in Haliburton Country, in central Ontario, Canada.
Located a few kilometers from Toronto, it is as unique as it can get. It has an ecotourism business with sustainable management of natural products making people call it an unusual company.
Haliburton Forest is the first certified in Canada by the FSC as “sustainable forests.” It comprises a research and education center, lumber, sawmills, tourism activities, making it an ideal vacation spot.
Called an outdoor lover’s paradise and a wood lover’s dream, Haliburton has a completely different past making history interesting.
This article contains the forest’s short history of how it became what it is now, the meaning of two divisions and what they are, followed by a list of 5 things to do at Haliburton Forest and Wildlife reserve when visiting some more.
I hope you’ll find the list helpful.
History of the Forest
The land of Haliburton and around was uninhabited in history by the First Nations Peoples. Still, with the Second Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s in the background, the Haliburton Forest and near land was surveyed for the first time in 1862-63 and was sold to a British company that tried to sell the land to British emigrants as farmland only to find out that the land was not agriculturally suitable.
Between 1870-1910, many companies, including the London-based, which was sold at least 10 townships, got the right to exploit the woods for capitalistic gains, leading to the depletion of timer and near extinction of white pine. By the 1940s, Hay and Co increased the exploitation by building lumbers, sawmills, etc.; most of the land was exploited by Hay and Co.
By 1960 when the land was taken over to Weldwood, Canada, with the view of production volume declining, it was sold to a German owner who changed the forest course in the 1960s.
The Schleifenbaum family, the owners, viewed managing the land in its natural state for long-term purposes rather than industrial production. However, practices like logging and sawmill continued but with the caution of improving the quality of the place.
In 1988, the owner started sustainable forest management, which led to the doubling of the forest land, which was of high quality with a positive future and opening a new side of the forest- activities, and adventures for people.
Since then, the Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve, which comprises millions of trees, have only seen development. Presently it has directors and their teams that guide forest operations, and simultaneously there is sustainable management and efforts to educate the public about ecology.
What are the functions of the two divisions?
As named by the company, the two divisions of Haliburton are Tourism and Recreation and Forest Products.
There are three hardwood sawmills that produce lumber, sawlogs, pulpwood, firewood. There are a set of professionals to manage the produces. The Forest Management Staff looks after logging, infrastructure, scientific research, Stewardship services to different landowners interested in managing their woodlots.
The Tourism and Recreation division promotes ecotourism by providing fun and learning opportunities through business. The activities are centered around educating people. Their activities can be single or a part of group experiences, including wolf centers, fishing, astronomy, hiking, canopy tours, and much more.
So here is a list of 5 things to do at Haliburton, followed by some other activities in case you might want to add them to your list. So without any delay, let’s get started!
1. Wolf Centre
Starting in 1996, the wolf center is home to a group of wolves within an enclosure (7-acre for them to roam around), fed randomly, making it close to nature and taken care of. There’s a glass door from where you can catch a glimpse of wolves. It is a year-round activity, and you’ll have to make a reservation beforehand and pay separately.
As a visitor at the wolf center, you can expect an education center, museum displays, documentaries, a gift shop, observation areas. There are sometimes different activities at the wolf center like presently it has painted with wolves and evening wolf howls (spooky for me, but you might enjoy!).
Photography through the glass doors is allowed providing a perfect opportunity for you to upload that Instagram story. There are guides to help you with your questions too.
2. Canopy Tour
Apart from wolf center, Canopy Tour is one of the most famous activities of Haliburton Forest and makes many people nervous and also one of a kind in the world, topping the bucket list of many adventurers.
Open in all seasons except winter, Canopy tour or Walk in the Clouds is one of many magical group experiences. With the help of a guide, you will walk on a suspended boardwalk.
It is around a 3-4 hour-long tour and starts with driving through the forest (your car or vehicle), canoeing to cross the lakes, walking along the Pelaw River (with a guide), and reaching the final destination. You will walk through the treetop and experience the view.
Snowmobiling is one of the most fun yet challenging things to do here. Even if you don’t own a snowmobile, you can rent one at the Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve. Review from the people who’ve already been here on trip describes this as their best experience.
The Snowmobile fleet consists of 600 ACE double-seated (2 UP) Ski-Doos, and rental rates with the other types of equipment like helmets and boots are on the website. This is open in winter only.
There are discounts also if you’re spending the night there. There are also single trails in some remote areas.
Also, a year-round activity, Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve is a paradise for all fishing enthusiasts. With more than 100 lakes, other ponds, streams, and creeks, one can do this activity whenever and wherever desired.
Lake, Brook, and Rainbow Trout are game species, giving Haliburton forest another name as ‘trout country.’ Apart from trout, there are brass fisheries.
One is supposed to inform about all the fishes caught. In 2017, the Haliburton Forest Fishing Society was formed and was open to anyone who might want to join.
5. Astronomy and Observatory
The forestry region is located three hours north of the lights of the Golden Horseshoe so that you can expect astronomy activity. Astronomer visitors like to observe the sky, stars, galaxies, anything that can’t be seen during the day. As part of other group experiences, astronomy is usually 1-2 hours long with a guide to help you. If you want to participate, you’ll have to register yourself.
There are different programs, so you’ll need to visit the official website, choose the best program for yourself and make reservations (the cost of the programs are also specified with the tour information) accordingly as there’s never a scarcity of start and moon lovers!
The observatory at the Haliburton Forest has floors, the ground one has presentations to entertain and educate the people, and the floor above has telescopes and astronomy pieces of equipment. As known, 2 telescopes have self-tracking computerized functions making them easy for people to use.
Mountain Biking enthusiasts or even amateurs can do this activity at the Haliburton Forest of Ontario with the help of guides. The mountain biking program teaches how to maintain bikes, riding skills, and have fun but with safety.
Even if you don’t own a bike, you can rent one with equipment like helmets. It can be done in all seasons except winter. Visitors get the choice of easy to difficult roads. The activity starts on Victoria Day and ends around Thanksgiving.
To know more about the cost of bikes for rent and make reservations, book yourself on changing tour programs offered by Haliburton Forest through their website.
Dogsledding activity has been closed, keeping animal welfare in mind. The website provides the location of multiple places where you can do this.
There are different trails available according to the level of hiking you prefer. The three divisions are easy, moderate, and difficult. Easy level has 6 trails, moderate has 12, and difficult has 9. Varying in length, find yourself a suitable group and book your spot here.
Forest festival is an annual exercise with numerous activities, including performing, visual arts, concerts, inside the premises, making it a part of many group experiences. As one of the most sought activities, it has a The Festival advisory committee which plans the festival every year.
To know more about the festival, book yourself a spot given the dates, timing, and activities suitable for you from the website here.
A new sawmill opened in 2010, which allows visitors inside and helps them learn about the mill.
If you want to spend more than a day or more, then stay overnight at the Haliburton Forest! Yes, they have every option with camping to accommodations, attractions, lakeside cabins at their base camp.
Every accommodation has its own set of rules, and sometimes they’re closed like camping is closed during the hunting season. There are also leases, and some lessees are regular visitors of this place for decades example, one hunt club dates its origin from pre-Canadian Confederation.
The Cookhouse of Haliburton is unique. Activities like beer tasting tours and flintlock musket lessons give local experience to visitors of far-off places. It provides other options like take-out, frozen meals, private catering.
Keeping the environment in focus, visitors themselves don’t litter, use any plastics whenever possible, regular cleaning of the place, promotes a healthy lifestyle besides giving a hygienic environment.
If you want to know more about accommodation options, price per night, permits, restrictions, pet policy, you can go to their website and choose from the place to live in, and activities allowed that day or the period you’re staying.
I hope that the above article or list was helpful for you to plan your weekend or vacation.
Address: 1095 Redken Rd, Haliburton, Ontario K0M 1S0 Canada
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